Chasing Cassiopeia |

Chasing Cassiopeia

Tom Boyd

Trout and wine and horses and fresh August air, clean white shirts and the moon rising over the mountain top and eventually some good, deep laughter that washes away nervousness.This is how dates begin.And later there is a moment when the eyes meet and break away, she reaches for bread while the laughter fades from her face and I watch her hand, I look at the sleekness of the fingers as they clutch the bread, the tendons under her skin, her silver ring, and before I become lost we talk again of something light, something easy to manage, like the bread.In a thousand dinner dates the general scenario will barely change. Sure, the details will shift. But the basic framework is the same, like a pyramid that we build upward from the beginning to the end of the night. At the end we are always in my car, or her car, or outside her house, or wherever, and inside my stomach the bottom drops out and I must, as my old pal T. Sage would say, “Go for the beans.”There is a theatrical pause beforehand. She looks up. I look down. She fidgets. I lean. Lips are like magnets attracting or, worse, like cars narrowly missing a head-on collision. On one fateful night the lips smack each other in that event of all awkward events: the half-baked kiss that lands in the region that’s not cheek, not mouth, but it is somewhere in-between and, without question, a dreaded place for lips to land.We bump heads. Sparkling pink lipstick smears my cheek. Lost in this embarrassing moment it occurs to me that civilized men and women, for all their clumsiness, have probably never invented a more awkward configuration than the accidental half-kiss. It is a misunderstanding that goes beyond words. Two mouths collide and are lost, trapped between two distinct worlds just like the intentions that betrayed them.What a tragedy.But you are not surprised, I tell myself. It was there in her eyes in that moment before she reached for the bread, and again when she opened the door to walk you to your car. It was like something broke. Like the workers went home and you were suddenly alone on the high rafters of the pyramid you tried to build all in one night. And you went for the kiss anyway, knowing you would probably feel the feeling of falling all night long, and perhaps hereafter, but still it is always better to go for the beans and be done with it.That way you know.And probably it makes sense that the night should end in awkwardness, landing like it did in the nether-region between the two distinct zones of mouth and cheek. Because isn’t that where you are, too? In-between? So tired of the counterfeit world of the drunken one-nighter, but not exactly primed for the diaper-laden rituals of domestic communion, either.As usual the stars and the moon don’t care and they are still hanging there, un-phased, spinning in circles. There is the North Star. There is the Big Dipper. And there is Cassiopeia, running counter-clockwise around the North Star while the Big Dipper (I picture him drooling over the rim of his cup) chases her endlessly without success.qTom Boyd can be reached at or (970) 390-1585.

Support Local Journalism